Fire Behaviour

Fire behaviour research considers the mechanisms of fire spread across the landscape. Uncovering the physics behind it through innovative and novel approaches helps us develop and improve predictive models of fire behaviour.

Firebrands, radiation and direct flame contact transition of fire into Wildland-Urban Interface

Wildfires pose a significant risk to human settlements and environmental assets. They can cause ignition of structures by firebrands, radiation or direct flame contact and transition of fire into Wildland-Urban Interface area (the area where structures such as houses meet or overlap with wildland or vegetation fuels). In addition, the impact of changing climates creates new challenges for researchers and fire managers. Fire seasons are becoming longer, wildfires are become bigger and more intense resulting in megafires.

Physics-based models and state-of-the-art laboratory and field experiments develop understanding

These new challenges require innovative and novel approaches to predict wildfire spread through the landscape and the associated impacts to communities. Physics-based models and state-of-the-art laboratory and field experiments help us understand how fuel, weather, terrain and spatial scale interact and influence ignition, spread and fire intensity. This knowledge is used to develop operational models to simulate wildfires, providing vital information to fire fighters, fire managers and the general public about fire behaviour, its impact on communities and biodiversity.

Fire behaviour research themes are wide ranging

Our research themes include:

  • Fire propagation in fuel beds
  • Fire transition in fuel strata
  • Interaction between fire fronts
  • Ignition and combustion of fuels
  • Generation of smoke and its impact
  • Impact of fire on vegetation and its survivability
  • Firebrand generation, transport and spotting
  • Ignition of structures by firebrands
  • Fire performance of structural materials

Selection of projects we are currently working on in this field

Understanding the origin and development of extreme and mega bushfires

Extreme and mega fires result in significant damage to property and infrastructure and are associated with large suppression costs. These events occur when separate fires merge. Their increase occurrence in recent seasons highlight the ...

Multiscale experimentation and simulation of wildfire spotting

Wildfires pose a significant risk to human and environmental assets around the world, especially in the Mediterranean region and Australia. Firebrands generated in wildfires are one of the most dangerous exposure mechanisms and the main cause ...

Developing detailed emission source terms for next-generation wildland fire and smoke modeling tools using improved near-field fire measurements

The primary negative impact from prescribed fires to human populations are the respiratory and visual smoke hazards when it is transported in sufficient quantities and compositions. Therefore, smoke management is paramount to prescribed ...

Firebrand ignition of building materials

Firebrands are small, often smoldering embers which break off of vegetative or structural materials during wildland fires and can loft up to several kilometers ahead of the main fire front, igniting new spot fires. They have been found to be ...

Restoration of eucalypt forest in Wilsons Promontory National Park- Implications for forest values and site and landscape flammability

Wilsons Promontory provides an example of how repeated short interval fires can prevent the regeneration of a Eucalyptus canopy in a range of ecological vegetation classes. The ‘destocking’ of forests can dramatically alter the composition, ...

Innovating bushfire behaviour monitoring for future preparedness

Accurate quantification of heat fluxes is paramount to our understanding of fire, its effects, and fire management strategies. Currently, many studies rely on proxies (e.g., fire severity or fireline intensity) that are estimated after the fire ...

Investigation of the ignition likelihood of building materials by firebrand piles

This project seeks to understand the firebrand ignition of building materials. It will relate the ignition propensity to fundamental material properties and characterize thermal and gaseous environments for various firebrand densities, wind ...

Other Capabilities

Future Fire

Predicted hotter and drier climates will modify wildfire intensity, extent, frequency, and seasonality. The Future Fires program will use strategic foresight and cutting-edge models to anticipate and help prepare for the wildfires of the future.

Fire Risk Modelling

Fire risk modelling provides robust calculations of risk at local and landscape scales. This helps to guide decision-making and management for assets including people, property, economic, environmental, cultural and infrastructure.

Landscape Flammability

Environmental and human factors can strongly influence fire behaviour by changing the vegetation. Understanding the role of these influencing factors and the contribution of vegetation itself to fire behaviour is vital to better estimate landscape flammability.